An article in the Science Policy Forum published in February finds that major journals coerce authors to cite articles in their own journal, in an effort to bolster their Journal Citation Reports Impact Factor. Authors cite a statement from an editor to illustrate the situation: “you cite Leukemia [once in 42 references]. Consequently, we kindly ask you to add references of articles published in Leukemia to your present article.” (p. 542) Comments on the article reflect that “anticipatory obedience” often occurs in the article submission process, such as citing articles from the same journal when another could have been used or even adding out of context data to enhance the number of citations from the same journal.
Scholars in many disciplines rely on journal impact factors as one measure of quality. Impact factors are also cited in the promotion and tenure process. Skewing impact factors via the process of citation coercion compromises the reliability of such rating systems.
[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]